The moment you exit your vehicle at DOOR COUNTY CANDLE COMPANY, the scents of sweet fragrances fill the air.
“It’s funny because customers come into the store all of the time and tell us that they were leaving the coffee shop nearby or they were pulling into our lot and they smell the candles,” said owner Christiana Trapani. “They’re like, ‘Wow!’ It’s kind of cool. It’s like we have this natural fan of scents just to bring people into our shop.”
Christiana and her husband Nic are young, hard-working entrepreneurs who love operating a business in Door County. The Trapanis purchased Door County Candle Company in Carlsville in June of 2021 and in two short years they’ve increased sales “threefold,” added a much-needed 3,000-square-foot warehouse to their retail store and production facility, and have plans to build an 8,000-square-foot addition in the near future.
Christiana came upon the business opportunity while running her own e-commerce gift-box business called Door County Delivered, which she still operates today.
“I was wholesaling for (Door County Candle Company founder) Mike Felhofer, and one day I came to pick up a large order of candles for a gift box and he told me he was thinking of retiring and was wondering if I would be interested in buying his business,” said Christiana. “I was like, ‘Yeah! That sounds amazing! I have no idea about candle-making, but let’s do this.’
“So, I talked to my husband and I started working for Mike ‘undercover’ making candles, doing retail and learning everything about the business for six months. Mike wanted to make sure I liked it and learned the ins and outs of the business.”
Christiana credits Mike’s mentorship along with great support from the local community and fellow Door County business owners for helping her and Nic get established. The Trapanis used storage space at a neighboring business before their addition was finished in August of 2022, and volunteers flocked to help when the Trapanis launched a Ukraine candle fundraiser that went viral and has raised more than $1 million for the war-torn country with 100,000-plus candle sales.
“There are a lot of great things about starting a business or growing a business in Door County,” said Christiana. “One, it’s a beautiful area and it’s a destination spot. Two, the community support is amazing. When we were first starting out, Door County Coffee helped us with storage space and when we needed help with our Ukraine candle fundraiser, the community just stepped in. We had about 500 volunteers, young and old, who helped us make candles. Even local businesses would bring us meals.
“Everyone really roots for people here and they really want businesses to succeed and push hard so you do succeed, which is really special. I couldn’t imagine having a business anywhere else in the world, and I’m so proud to have a business in Door County.”